Squillaci given France nod
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Monaco defender Sebastien Squillaci has earned his first call-up to the France national squad as cover for Saturday's Euro 2004 qualifier against Israel.
Les Bleus coach Jacques Santini has plumped for Squillaci to buttress his rearguard after losing Manchester United stopper Mikael Silvestre to injury.
Influential centre half Marcel Desailly is also struggling with a hip injury and the veteran Chelsea ace is unlikely to be risked for the tussle with Israel.
With France already qualified for the finals in Portugal, Santini has drafted in the uncapped Squillaci to provide cover for his backline.
The 23-year-old admits he is surprised to have received the international call and feels it is a reward for Monaco's superb start to the season, both domestically and in the Champions League.
"I knew about the decision on Tuesday night, through a phone call," Squillaci told a French radio station.
"I have to replace an injured player. I think it is Desailly.
"I really didn't expect it. I think it is linked with the fact my club have had good results. We are leading Le Championnat and have been outstanding in the Champions League.
"I am very happy. I will join up with players I used to watch on TV. Replacing Desailly is really special. He is a model for me. I am happy and proud."